Mapping and Location Based Services

MDA’s Urban Change Monitoring service equips mapping organizations with a consistent feed of targeted change alerts to streamline map maintenance and increase map value.

Growing industries such as location-based services are driving increased demand for up-to-date, accurate, and reliable maps. Understanding where, when, and how the world is changing and being able to rapidly capture it all is a challenging task. With over three decades of remote sensing expertise, MDA, a leader in change detection, has developed a systematic, scalable, multi-source approach to detect changes and generate alerts to notify map makers of where change activities are occurring. By leveraging extensive stacks of archived optical and radar satellite imagery, utilizing innovative algorithms, and employing land information products, MDA delivers highly accurate and focused change alerts.

MDA monitors the customer-defined Area Under Management (AUM), and delivers reports through a subscription model.

Area Under Management

MDA Global Change Monitoring Sample Product. Blue areas are new completed structures, red areas are removed structures, green are on-going construction.


This service provides a focused solution for Location Based Services (LBS) companies and civil/defense mapping agencies to:

  • Streamline Map Maintenance – Helps subscribers to focus map updating resources where relevant changes have occurred, reducing cost and effort within map maintenance work flows.
  • Improve Map Value – Enables subscribers to identify changes over large areas faster, and to identify additional changes, in order to maximize map currency, quality and competitiveness.
  • Focus Optical Image Collections – Knowing where changes are enables users to focus new high resolution optical image acquisitions, thereby improving image acquisition efficiency.

Mapping organizations spends billions on creating and maintaining their regional/global map resources.  The process of map updating often includes use of crowd sourcing and manual processes to find change areas that require updates. 


This activity can be time consuming and error prone due to the degree of human intervention, resulting in maps that are out of date and that miss new structures and infrastructure. The image below shows the current version of a map and highlights area that are missing despite the presence of more recent imagery in freely available platforms.


Example of a September2017 map showing missing new structures visible in open imagery

The MDA Urban Change Product solves this challenge by providing automated detailed change alerts over vast areas at a high resolution.  Below is a sample product over the same area that shows changes from 2014 through 2017 that clearly identifies the new structures and areas under construction during this time period.  Armed with this information layer, map updaters can quickly focus on areas of change to ensure that maps are updated more quickly and cost effectively.


Sample Global Urban Change Monitoring Service Product, Asco, California


Through employing a multi-sensor approach (using RADARSAT-2 high resolution modes, Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Landsat-8 and others) to create rich information products MDA is helping our customers create better maps more cost effectively.  This approach provides the ability to receive frequent change reports over millions of square kilometers that reveal new construction of buildings and roads, clearing of buildings and other land use changes.


MDA’s Urban Change Monitoring service employs multiple sources of imagery and information to provide a flexible, reliable and responsive service.


The MDA Change Monitoring service is purchased on a subscription model where subscribers choose an Area Under Management (AUM) to be monitor and a reporting frequency, typically four reports per year.  MDA manages acquisition planning, tasking, reception, processing and report generation to monitor the AUM.  The current AUM consists of all urban centers in North America, Western Europe and China.  Other areas can be added to the AUM upon request.


Global Urban Change Monitoring Service Area Under Management


  • MDA guarantees deliveries to a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines AUM extent and reporting frequency
  • Reports consist of filtered change polygons (Esri shapefiles) marking persistent change areas for new/removed structures, construction and other activity.
  • The Reports contain metadata on the nature of change: new structures, removal, construction, etc.
  • The area and extent of each Report is consistent with that of the source material (nominally 125km x 125km)

Delivery Process:

  • Reports delivered as source material becomes available
  • Reports delivered to cloud storage for simple and fast access

Tracking: MDA provides metrics on completion of the AUM quarterly to help keep track of MDA’s performance against the SLA.